Re cons true ting Marxism: The Thompsonian Framework
Notwithstanding the constraints of space and obvious limitations in analysing the anthology of Thompson' s writings, Bhupendra Yadav, in his article 'E.P. Thompson: scholar, polemicist and pacifist' (Social Scientist, vol. 26, Nos. 11-12, Nov-Dec. 1997), has not brought into relief some of the most significant and long lasting theoretical contributions of EPT. EPT has not only influenced history writing in a decisive way (for instance, his writings precursors 'Subaltern Studies' tradition), but also the course of development and direction of Marxist theory. It is, perhaps, therefore imperative to comprehend EPT more as a 'Marxist' than in de-ideologised terms such as a 'scholar' or 'polemicist'.
One of the most fundamental reformulations of EPT that has decisively determined the 'foundations' and thereby the direction of Marxist theory, is his rejection of the base - superstructure model. He argued that historical materialism has to be founded not on a segregated notion of reality, represented in the base-superstructure model, but on the model of organic totality as represented in the dictum 'social being determines social consciousness' . According to EPT, most of the mechanistic and teleological formulations of history and social processes by Marxists, had their roots in the base-superstructure metaphor. He infact argued that Marx, in a sense, was himself responsible for reductionist interpretations and the later 'crisis of Marxism'.
According to Thompson, Marx' s work evolved in two distinct phases.
* Research Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Social Scientist, Vol. 27, Nos. 7 - 8, July- August 1998